In the practice locker room of the Brookwood Broncos, coach Philip Jones has a list of team goals for the 2016 season. One of them: to win the first game of the season. After the Broncos defeated the North Gwinnett Bulldogs 37-23 in the Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome on Saturday, they can check that goal off their list.
“To come out here and win like that validates all the hard work we put in this summer,” said Jones, now in his second season leading the Broncos. “And it gives us momentum heading into season.”
For the Broncos (1-0), it was their first win in the Kell Classic since 2010. The Bulldogs fell to 0-1 in a battle of two AAAAAAA Gwinnett County programs that failed to make the playoffs last year.
Brookwood’s decisive victory was a well rounded effort. Junior running back Dante Black led all rushers with 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 33 carries, with both scores and 122 yards coming in the first half. Special teams recovered a pair of fumbles on North Gwinnett punts, one by Leonard Weaver in the end zone. The other led to one of Black’s touchdown runs. Finally, the defense stepped up late with a pair of fourth quarter interceptions including Kendall Williamson’s 56-yard pick six with less than four minutes to go, bringing the score to its final margin.
“It was a team win for sure,” Jones said.
The Bulldogs scored on the game’s opening drive, using 10 plays and two minutes to move 73 yards, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown run from Ryan Lovelace. The Broncos would answer two possessions later with a 94-yard drive highlighted by a Black 35-yard run and a 54-yard touchdown pass from Angelo DiSpigna to Matthew Hill.
The Broncos took the lead for good early in the second quarter on a 5-yard Black touchdown run, which came after Brookwood recovered a muffed Bulldogs punt on the North Gwinnett 24. With 5:03 remaining in the half, Black rushed for his second touchdown, this from 35 yards out to bring the score to 21-10.
The Broncos added to their lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter when Weaver blocked a Bulldogs punt attempt from inside North Gwinnett territory then recovered it in the end zone to give Brookwood a 27-10 lead.
The Bulldogs would counter behind two long touchdown passes by Cade Fortin in the third quarter, one going 54 yards to LJ Fisher, the other 51 yards to Ryan Smith that brought the score to 27-23 with 1:33 left in the third.
The Broncos ended their first drive of the final quarter with a 37-yard field goal from Shane Adams to go up 30-23 with 6:47 remaining, which set the stage for Williamson’s game-clinching interception for a touchdown.
Brookwood 7 14 6 10 – 37
North Gwinnett 7 3 13 0 – 23
N – Ryan Lovelace 5 run (Manuel Herrera kick)
B – Matthew Hill 54 pass from Angelo DiSpigna (Shane Adams kick)
B – Dante Black 5 run (Adams kick)
N – Herrera 35 FG
B – Black 35 run (Adams kick)
B – Leonard Weaver blocked punt recovered in end zone (kick failed)
N – LJ Fisher 54 pass from Cade Fortin (Herrera kick)
N – Ryan Smith 51 pass from Fortin (kick failed)
B – Adams 35 FG
B – Kendall Williamson 56 interception return (Adams kick)